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  • THE CASHMERE CONNECTION

    by Beata Henrichs-Lieb January 17, 2017

    THE CASHMERE CONNECTION

    I remember once meeting someone who was allergic to cashmere. Allergic to cashmere? That just seems unfair. Like people who are allergic to chocolate. Come on! Bees I get. Peanuts ok. But cashmere...

    Cashmere wool comes from the Kashmir goat of Kashmir, in Northernmost India, and it is truly the softest and finest wool in the world. I love the stuff, for the same reasons you do, probably: It looks great with anything and good cashmere does not age. Good cashmere will last forever. The one problem with it is it can be really expensive -- But isn’t that always the case? The good stuff never comes cheap.

    As a designer and manufacturer, I had a hell of a time getting a line on a good supplier. In the end I never did and at the time, when we really wanted to flesh out a consistent line of cashmere, Hedgehouse was so small that the investment did not have a great return. The reasons were simple. The company back then was very LA-centric with zero marketing dollars and cashmere THROWBEDS just seemed permanently out of season. Another issue was that the retail price on a cashmere THROWBED became astronomical -- a minor investment for our clients to say the least! We were and still are striving to be an affordable luxury brand. But I didn’t think about any of this at the time, I just wanted cashmere! I wanted to see cashmere on THROWBEDS, MINIS and HEADBOARD CUSHIONS. I thought they would be beautiful and I didn’t care how much it cost. So after a lot of dead ends with sinister cashmere dealers (you would’ve thought I was trying to buy uranium) I finally met a guy that seemed legit. Sam. My hopes were high. I was already having visions of Sam and I trekking through the mountains of Kashmir to his secret source! I could see my future, I could see myself striking gold… or in this case cashmere.

    The day of the meeting I was so excited, I got downtown early. I parked in the lot on 6th and Grand said an extra cheery "hi" to the parking attendant and headed up to my date with destiny. Once at the office door I could hear shouting. So naturally, I knocked. It went silent. I knocked one more time.
 "Who is it”? He may as well have said “I have a gun”.

    “Its Beata, we had an appointment? If this is a bad time…” After a long 30 seconds I heard some furniture being shifted. It sounded like he was unbarricading the door. Which I think he was doing, after I got inside and got a look around the place. The room was smoky and crammed with dented old filing cabinets that were overflowing with thousands of swatch cards. I noticed none of them had his company name on them. The window was covered with some cloth -- not cashmere -- and he had a rotary phone on his desk, also overflowing with swatch cards. The source of the thick haze of cigarette smoke was from an attractive middle-aged Chinese woman sitting on the windowsill. She did not say hello. Clearly I had just walked into a film noir.

    Sam was sweating and seemed to have no recollection of me or our appointment. He explained that he was on his way to India and did not have much time. Fine by me, I was looking for an exit plan myself. I have walked into some tricky scenes in my life time so I know one when I see it and I have learned to cut my losses! After some bullshit talk about yardage and quantities I got out of there. Sam thrust a bunch of old swatch cards into my hand and I was shown the door. I trudged back down to my car, leaving Sam and his beautiful Chinese noir film star to continue blaming each other for some scheme gone wrong.

    I was crestfallen. My dreams of inexpensive cashmere from the source dashed! My bonding trekking adventure with Sam not to be. Frustrated I got back in my car and reluctantly headed over to Rag Finders where I knew I could find some, but where I was going to have to pay double for it, and there was no guarantee of a steady supply. And a steady well priced supply of cashmere was what I wanted. It was especially frustrating to me because that elusive steady supply spoke to the world of mass production. Big manufacturing. A world I longed to be in and still do. Where does Ralph Lauren get his cashmere? JCrew? H+M, Donna Karan, Uniglo? Where is the world’s supply of affordable cashmere kept and why cant I source it!!! I still don’t know. I'm guessing they just make it themselves - which drives me even crazier!

    We have come a long way since those days in other areas of Hedgehouse development. But I learned from that chapter, mostly, to just be patient. Keep the faith and keep on moving. There are reasons things don’t go my way at certain times and there are reasons they do. Every day that Jodi and I show up to work we get a little closer. After all, this is America and there are many doors to knock on. HEDGEHOUSE is already proof of that. As far as the cashmere goes we make very limited runs on cashmere just to keep it in our line, usually overpaying for it and only breaking even -- but it sure beats chasing guys like Sam around. That is worth it's weight in cashmere.

    CASHMERE LOVES:

    Rag Finders

    Loro Piana

    Jammu and Kashmir, India

    Led Zeppelin - Kashmir -- From sixth studio album, Physical Graffiti

    Ralph Lauren




    Beata Henrichs-Lieb
    Beata Henrichs-Lieb

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